Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Ultimate Return

Ultimate Warrior saves Hulk Hogan
Photo courtesy: WWE 
By Kevin Hunsperger 
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The WWE is celebrating the life and career of the Ultimate Warrior with Warrior Week on the Network. I thought I'd take a minute to share a few of my favorite returns by the Warrior.

I had always been a fan of his work and when he chased Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa, and Gen. Adnan from the ring at SummerSlam 1991, I had no idea he wouldn't stop running.  This was long before the Internet, so fans had no idea what really happened to the Ultimate Warrior.  He simply disappeared from TV.

The Ultimate Return
Fast forward nearly eight months to the main event of Wrestlemania VIII.  Hulk Hogan was battling Sid Justice.  Papa Shango got involved, causing Justice to get disqualified.  As the Hulkster was being attacked, that familiar beat boomed throughout the Hoosier Dome.  Then the muscle man with the war paint and tassels came charging to the ring.  When he hit the squared circle, he and Hogan cleaned house.  The Ultimate Warrior was back home!

Savage vs. Warrior SummerSlam 92
Photo courtesy: WWE
It seemed appropriate to bring Warrior back as Hogan was fading off into the Hollywood sunset again. Randy Savage had turned babyface and was the new champion, but there weren't too many other top good guys on the roster.  Warrior and Savage played nice together, despite Warrior beating the Macho Man a year earlier and sending him into retirement.  The two ended up facing each other at SummerSlam 92, in a face vs. face championship match.  Warrior won by count out and he and Savage formed a team called The Ultimate Maniacs.  I don't know the reasons why, but Warrior would exit once again, just ahead of the Survivor Series pay per view.

Warrior vs. HHH
Photo courtesy: WWE
Warrior remained out of the spotlight for years, before making another comeback in 1996.  He stormed the ring again at a Wrestlemania, but this time as the announced opponent of Hunter Hearst Helmsley.  He made quick work of the blue blood, pinning him after a couple of minutes of action.  Warrior again didn't stay long though, spending just a few months in the company.  He wrestled guys like Goldust, Vader (a match I saw live in St. Louis), and Jerry "The King" Lawler (who was his last opponent in a WWE ring).  

Man in the mirror
Photo courtesy: WWE
Another comeback came in 1998 when Warrior signed with WCW to feud with Hogan.  I wasn't as excited about this return, as I thought the 1990 encounter between the two should have been left alone, but I understand why they redid the match.  None-the-less, I enjoyed seeing Warrior back on TV.

Warrior & his daughters
Photo courtesy: WWE 
Warrior's final comeback came when the legend signed a deal to appear in video game WWE Y2K14.  Months later, it was announced he'd be enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame.  Luckily I was in attendance for the ceremony and his appearances at Wrestlemania 30 and Raw the day before he died.  

Rest in peace Warrior, thanks for being an inspiration to so many.  Always believe.

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